Real Talk: Dear Me

At the ripe old age of 30, I’m finding that the words “When I was their age…” fall out of my mouth a lot more - specifically for this time of year.

And by this time of year, I mean graduation season.

I’ve always thought of my life in the format of semesters (even eight years later), and working on a college campus has only amplified that.

Like clockwork, the patterns of each semester emerge:

Summer is full of time for renewal and planning.

Fall is full of excitement and new EVERYTHING.

Spring is full of nostalgia, with a mixture of apprehension and excitement for what’s to come thrown on top for good measure.

Currently, high schools and colleges are moving forward at a rapid pace to wrap up the year and to send their baby birds out of the nest.

Even at The Children’s Center for Communication and Development, we have children who will graduate out of our program and move on to the next phase of life - kindergarten.

I’m surrounded by all of the graduation things at different levels of emotion, and I can’t help but remember how the Mays of 2005 and 2009 felt for me.

So, if I were to travel back in time for a bit… this might be what I would tell the 18 and 22-year-old versions of myself.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Life is not black and white and you will learn from living in the gray. That sounds boring, right? I hear you. But, hear me out...

Not only will gray become your favorite color, but you’ll learn that life is found in the midst of it. Life is not black and white, and the gray is where you figure it all out.

It’s where you make mistakes.

It’s where you pick yourself up after falling.

It’s where you create alternate paths when the one you ventured down was a dead-end or sent you in the very direction you didn’t need to be.

Take it from me! Fear of failure can hold you hostage. Don’t let it.

Embrace failing as a way to learn, a way to grow.

Your stubbornness provides a good story from time to time. But, if you let up on that just a tad, you might just escape a few situations less scathed.

Find your village.

In 10-15 years, your greatest treasure in life will be your family. Right after them? Your friends.

Don’t believe the lies your introverted-self will tell you about not needing a whole lot of people. That internal voice is lying to you because sometimes it’s uncomfortable to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be vulnerable.

Throughout your journey, you’ll be lucky to meet all types of people who come from all types of places. But your village? Those people who stick with you through the celebrations and the heartbreak? They are keepers.

You do a pretty darn good job of finding people who challenge you and who provide friendships you can’t live without. I won’t spoil it too much, you’ll see soon enough.

Be kind to yourself.

You go through some pretty rocky phases with self-acceptance. There’s only one you. Use your self-talk wisely, and know that you really are fearfully and wonderfully made.

In the words of the good Doctor - “There’s no one who is you-er than you!”

Don’t be too afraid of heartbreak.

Heartbreak is real and it will happen to you a few different times.

It will hurt.

You will cry (ugh, I know - it’s awful).

You will experience deep-seated sadness.

You will feel vulnerable.

There’s that word again. As a sidenote… you aren’t really great with this feeling, but you later learn how important it is to be vulnerable. This is a part of your story I wouldn’t dare change.

While heartbreak is very real and you will go through some tough times, be hopeful. Because on the other side of heartbreak, you learn about what it means to be strong. And that… that is probably the best story of all.

Go. Do. Live.

You are used to the narrow path that is created out of a life of boundaries and rules. To this day, you are still a hardcore rule follower. Your village will help with this, but you’ll also learn that those boundaries have a time and place.

Don’t be too alarmed… but, you’ll need to release the reigns a bit. AND IT WILL ALL BE OKAY. Matter of fact, sometimes it will be fun.

Let it provide you a foundation for going, doing and ultimately - living. And while we’re talking about living…

Dance whenever you can. No one will make fun of you… at least not to your face; and even if they do, no one will remember it in a day or two.

Go to late-night movies and take advantage of your night-owl tendencies while you can. That whole “enjoy it, it doesn’t last” thing that people tell you? Well, it’s accurate. And, one day you’ll be in bed by 9:30 each night because you just don’t function unless you have seven to eight hours of sleep.

Travel to the places you’ve always wanted to go and experience other cultures. Playing catch-up in your late 20s is a lot harder (and way more expensive).

Go to every concert possible. Live music is a gift and you’ll try like hell to catch up in your 30s.

Know deeply that going and doing doesn’t ALWAYS need to be mapped out to a deliberate T. You’ll later meet a friend named Kim Wilson and she’ll tell you to live your life to its full depth and width. It will hit you square in the gut.

Learn it early.

Live it out.

 

When Samantha isn’t celebrating the end of the Spring Semester with her littles at The Children’s Center, she can be found planning her itinerary for Hangout Music Festival.

If something Samantha wrote made you laugh, cry, or yell in anger - let her know at mccainsam@gmail.com.